Cottage Grove mayor's race: Challenger Rediske says city needs changeAfter approving a controversial project to build a new Cottage Grove City Hall and public safety facility, avoiding a referendum on financing for that same building and putting a multi-million dollar package of park improvements on the Nov. 6 ballot, Chad Rediske says it is clear to him the City Council isn’t listening to its residents.
After approving a controversial project to build a new Cottage Grove City Hall and public safety facility, avoiding a referendum on financing for that same building and putting a multi-million dollar package of park improvements on the Nov. 6 ballot, Chad Rediske says it is clear to him the City Council isn’t listening to its residents.
That’s why Rediske, seeking his first foray into elected office by challenging Mayor Myron Bailey, says he is running — to lend an ear to citizens he believes have been ignored.
“There is leadership and there is arrogance,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s a fine line. If it’s controversial, I think you really need a bigger view than just the [opinions of] the five people on the council.”
Rediske, 40, says Bailey and other council members have tried to do their best for the city. He just doesn’t believe their approach is working and said they are not connecting with voters.
“People aren’t getting the message now,” Rediske said. “No matter what we’re doing, it isn’t working. It’s got to change.”
An IT analyst, owner of a small financial advisory business and a retired U.S. Marine, Rediske said in a recent interview he decided to run this summer after hearing in conversations with residents around town that they were ready for a change.
Council members like Bailey, Justin Olsen and Jen Peterson — all up for re-election — have frequently batted away that charge, pointing to an independent city survey that showed a high level of satisfaction with the council and city. Rediske, though, said he will listen to residents more than Bailey and other elected officials have.
“A lot of what I’ve encountered is [residents] feel like things are being done without regard to their concerns,” Rediske said, highlighting the council’s decision to construct the recently-christened, $15.1 million City Hall that will house general government and Public Safety Department operations beginning Monday, Oct. 29.
Rediske said the biggest issue facing the city in the next four years will be increasing the number of living-wage jobs in Cottage Grove. That is needed, he said, to increase the daytime population in Cottage Grove to help the city better support its retail businesses and restaurants.
The city’s aggressive marketing efforts have been too focused on retail and restaurants, he said.
“I understand their approach but you can’t bring in more retail” if the city is struggling to support the stores and eateries it already has, Rediske said, saying he would be open to using incentives like tax increment financing to help draw more manufacturing to the city.
Those types of businesses are needed, he said, to help ease the burden on homeowners and property tax payers. Lower taxes will draw more residents and businesses, he said, not amenities like those proposed in a pair of parks referendums before voters next month. More park facilities or splash pads mean more costs for taxpayers, he said.
That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean cuts, Rediske said when asked his approach toward budgeting would be as mayor.
“Cutting something is always the easy answer,” he said. “But, that’s not what I intend.
He continued: “In today’s economy, we’ve got to be more creative than ever before. Businesses are pinched, people are pinched, but people still want more.”